Barry Lyga’s upcoming YA novel Bang tells the heartbreaking story a boy who accidentally shot and killed his sister when they were young, and EW can exclusively reveal the cover and an excerpt.
At the age of 4, Sebastian Cody, accidentally shot his 4-month-old sister with his father’s gun. He has lived with the guilt his whole life. Ten years later, with his best friend away for the summer, he seeks solace in his new friendship with Aneesa. But he is battling dark thoughts.
“Although Bang is not a book about gun violence or gun control, I hope it will spark conversation and make readers think about the impact guns have on our lives,” writes Alvina Ling, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Bang comes out in April 18, 2017. See below for the excerpt and cover:
Excerpt from Bang by Barry Lyga
And the thing is this: I don’t even remember doing it.
My sister is in the memory hole.
She has been disappeared, vanished, eliminated, eradicated. The memory hole is a conceit from a book they made us read in school, 1984. Even though the story takes place in the past, it feels very much like the present or the near future. It feels like something incipient, imminent, pervasive. Like a fog so cold it’s a thousand needles in your skin, just barely breaking the surface.
1984 is a full-body tattoo that’s about to start, and it bestowed upon me the memory hole, which swallowed my sister bodily ten years ago.
There are no photos of her in the house.
There is no scrapbook. No baby clothes or stuffed animals or bright, crocheted baby blankets.
She’s been extinguished. She’s been erased.
My sister is in the memory hole because I killed her.
I’m told it was a Tuesday. I’m told it was June and it was hot and there’d been no rain for weeks, no respite from the heat that pressed down on Brookdale. I’m told Mom was in the backyard, hanging laundry on the line, that my father was in the garage.
I’m told I leveled my father’s .38 Magnum at her as she sat in the little bouncy chair with the stuffed birds hanging overhead. I’m told she would only nap in the bouncy chair, that she loved the stuffed birds and the birdsong that the chair played for her.
I’m told it was point-blank range and that I shot her one time.
Which, really, is all it takes.
She was four months old.
I’m told Mom got there first, the backdoor being close to the nursery. My father arrived a few seconds later and I was on the floor, blacked out from the kick of the pistol, which knocked me across the room. I’m told Mom screamed and screamed, clawing at her own face at the sight before her. Local legend has it that my father, fearing she would gouge her own eyes out or tear her face to ribbons, deliberately punched her out cold.
I have no reason not to believe any of the things I’ve been told.
I’m told so many things.
I was a child. It was an accident. It wasn’t my fault.
I was four years old.
It was ten years ago and it’s June now, again, as it is every year, but it’s not a Tuesday, but it is ten years to the day, and it’s going to rain, my phone tells me. It’s going to rain.
I like the rain. I like it ferocious and I like it gentle. I like sudden showers that last the afternoon and sprinkles that don’t last the time it takes to run to the car.
Rain is clean.
It’s Sunday and the last week of school starts tomorrow, so I stare out the window and ignore my homework, and I think of lightning, and of thunder, and of the rain.
There’s no indication it’s been ten years, no sign of the morbid anniversary. Mom is no more or less morose on this day—she wears her sadness always, an unseeable, unavoidable mantle.
She goes to bed early this night, but Mom frequently goes to bed early, a glass of wine in her hand or—sometimes—a too-sweet scent drifting up from under her closed bedroom door.
Every night before bed, she seeks me out wherever in the house I happen to be and kisses the top of my head. These days, this requires that I be sitting or that she take my face in her hands and tilt my head down. Tonight is a tilting night, as I’m standing at the window.
She pecks at my hairline and says, “I love you.”
I don’t know when this ritual began. Some nights, she says it perfunctorily; others, sweetly; still others, dully. Tonight, she says it with difficulty, as though she’s a child who’s broken a neighbor’s window and has been forced by a parent to apologize.
“I’m sorry,” I want to say, but don’t. Every time my mother tells me she loves me, this is what I want to say.
That night, after dark, before the rain, I sneak out of the house. I’ve mastered this particular skill over the course of many dead nights, when the silence was too loud and the solitude too confining. Mom sleeps soundly and well and without break. I sneak out of the house, but the truth is, I could simply leave.
I ride my bike out of the neighborhood, out to where Route 27 intersects Brook Road. The night is overcast, but the streetlights and a gauzy blur of moonlight show the way. The remnants of the day’s heat and humidity linger like party guests who stubbornly refuse to get the hint.
The streets are empty, except for the occasional rumble of a big rig, dinosauring from out of the darkness back into the darkness. I sail through intersections, the traffic lights gone blinking red after midnight.
Halfway there, the rain timidly speaks up, beginning as a hanging mist. Moisture wicks by; jewels grow on my eyelashes, distorting the meager light. I wipe at them; they grow back like hydra heads.
Soon, the mist breaks, maturing into a light tattoo of soft, nearly soundless droplets. Sweat mingles, and a thread of moisture runs cold against the warm skin of the back of my neck, beneath my shirt collar and down my back. Lifting my feet from the pedals, I coast onto the shoulder, then bump and jostle onto the grass, gliding down a grade. My tires, rain-grass-slick, slip and jitter under me. I wrestle them under control almost unconsciously.
Through a stand of trees, I see it. Drifted to a halt as the grade levels, I lean my bike against an aging poplar, its branches bent, gnarled, as though arthritic and melancholy. I pick my way through an undergrowth of sticker bushes and brambles.
Above, the rain patters on the leaves.
Ahead, it crouches in the dark, a deader dark, cloaked in dirt and rust.
The old mobile home seems to tilt just slightly to the left, but this is an illusion caused by a dent in the roof and the natural slope of the land here. It is still and silent, save for the clink and ping of raindrops, audible even from here.
This is where.
This is where it will happen.
This is where I will do it.
When the time comes.
I’ve fired a gun once in my life.
I’ll do it again.
When the time comes.